Trump administration unveils new executive order on counterterrorism sanctions

The Trump administration on Tuesday unveiled a new executive order that, among other provisions aimed at expanding counterterrorism sanctions, will allow the U.S. to target terrorist leaders without having to tie them to specific acts.

“Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that they risk sanctions if they knowingly conduct or facilitate any significant transactions with designated terrorists and terrorist enablers,” President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump opens new line of impeachment attack for Democrats Bloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes MORE said in a statement accompanying the executive order. 

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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Pompeo: No US response ruled out in Hong Kong Ousted ambassador describes State Department in 'crisis' in dramatic impeachment testimony MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report — Public impeachment drama resumes today On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings Lawmakers aim for agreement on top-line spending by next week MORE detailed the measure during a briefing with reporters at the White House, but the announcement was overshadowed by the firing of national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonHighly irregular: Rudy, the president, and a venture in Ukraine Trump files to dismiss lawsuit from Bolton aide on impeachment testimony Scarborough: Trump is either 'an agent of Russia' or 'a useful idiot' MORE, who had been scheduled to attend the event, just two hours earlier. 

The executive order amends a previous directive to allow the State and Treasury Departments to directly target leaders of terrorist groups and associated entities without having to tie them to specific acts, Pompeo said. 

He also said it “more effectively and efficiently targets individuals and entities who participate in terrorist training, and provides new authorities to impose sanctions on foreign financial institutions that knowingly do business with terrorists.” 

Mnuchin said the executive order “greatly enhances our ability to identify, sanction and deter perpetrators of terrorism worldwide.”

In conjunction with the announcement, the Treasury Department sanctioned more than a dozen leaders, individuals and entities affiliated with designated terror groups, including those affiliated with ISIS and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force. The State Department also announced 12 new terrorist designations on Tuesday. 

The announcement came on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Pompeo called the measure the “most significant update” to counterterrorism authorities in 18 years.  

“Today’s executive order … adds further muscle to U.S. counterterrorism efforts,” he said. “It will help us to ensure that the deadly attacks of Sept. 11 that occurred 18 years ago this week will never be repeated on American soil.” 

The briefing took place shortly after President Trump abruptly announced he had ousted John Bolton as national security adviser. Bolton was originally scheduled to attend Tuesday afternoon’s briefing, before Trump tweeted that he had submitted his resignation. 

Asked if they were caught off guard by Bolton’s sudden departure, Pompeo responded that he’s “never surprised.”

“And I don’t mean that on just this issue,” Pompeo said. “And I think Secretary Mnuchin would say the same thing.”